It’s Official: Strength Training Helps Older People Function Better

The Cochrane Collaboration weighs in on the benefits of strength training.

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You now really have no excuse; a review of research finds that strength training improves strength and the performance of daily activities in older adults. That's the word from the Cochrane Collaboration, which publishes evidence-based reviews in the Cochrane Library.

[See a slide show of 10 excuses for not exercising, and why they won't fly.]

Progressive resistance training—training that increases the weight or resistance as you improve—not only strengthens older people but improves their ability to perform activities like walking, climbing steps, and even taking a bath or making dinner, says the review. It also appears to reduce pain from arthritis. The authors' one caveat: The 121 trials whose data they analyzed did not give enough evidence to assess the risks of strength training or the effects over the long term.

[Here's information on how strength training fits into a plan to avoid losing muscle as you age. And if you're already a fan, here are 7 tips to shake up your strength-training program.]